Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can text while walking as easily as children without ADHD; however, characteristics such as age and ADHD symptom severity may cause dual-task hindrance, according to findings published in Gait & Posture.
Researchers sought to examine texting while walking performance among children with ADHD, assessing symptom severity and the role of age in dual-task functioning. They conducted a study that included children with ADHD between the ages of 10 and 18 years who owned a mobile phone for more than 6 months, were able to type sentences using the mobile phone, and were native Hebrew speakers.
Those who had neurological or orthopedic conditions affecting gait, uncorrected visual or auditory deficit, difficulty typing messages while walking, used assistive devices, or had pain while walking were excluded from the study. Potential members of the control group who had a score greater than 66 in the Conners Parents Rating Scale or a score less than 58 in the Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire were also excluded from the study.
A total of 19 children (63% girls; 74% sent >30 text messages per day) with ADHD (17 prediagnosed by a neurologist, 2 received a post-diagnosis after participating with the control group) and 30 healthy children (57% girls; 30% sent >30 text messages per day) walked across a street outdoors and across a corridor indoors both with and without mobile phone texting. A custom-made mobile app and inertial measurement units were used to assess walking and texting performance.
Researchers found no between-group difference in texting or walking performance. Texting and walking performance were similar indoors and outdoors. Older children in both groups experienced smaller dual-task performance deficits for texting speed and gait. Children with ADHD who had more motor symptoms were less accurate in typing (r=-0.60; P =.009), but typed faster under indoor dual-task conditions (r=0.60; P =.007). Children with ADHD who had more severe hyperactivity symptoms experienced larger outdoor dual task costs for gait (r=0.69; P =.002).
Limitations of the study include the underpowered sample size, sampling by convenience, the inequality of texting proficiency, and brief walking time.
Study authors conclude, “Children with ADHD do not demonstrate deficits in dual-task performance of a texting and walking task indoors or outdoors.” They suggest that a more personalize approach for assessing dual-task performance in children with ADHD was supported by their results reflecting the relationship of motor symptoms, hyperactivity, and age with walking and texting performance.
Krasovsky T, Korytny T, Hamady H, Kizony R. Factors associated with texting and walking performance in children with ADHD: the role of age, environment, and symptom severity. Gait Posture. Published online August 26, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2022.08.016